Why We Need a Kindergarten Stage

Primary Author or Creator:
Sue Palmer
Bella Caledonia
Alternative Published Date
Type of Resource:
Fast Facts

The case for kindergarden and a 6 year old start to formal schooling in Scotland.

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when the SNP’s Policy Convener, Toni Giugliano, proposed a motion to introduce a kindergarten stage at the forthcoming SNP Conference, the government’s response was that ‘It’s not necessary – we’re doing it already.’  But while Upstart Scotland gratefully acknowledges the progress that’s been made, we must explain that it IS necessary and they certainly aren’t doing it already.

A kindergarten stage is necessary to reduce the attainment gap (which is at root is developmental, not educational). As long as those tests and targets are there in P1, local authorities will pressurise schools for evidence of progress in literacy and numeracy. Most P1 teachers will be required by their senior management to teach the three Rs, rather than supporting children to learn as appropriate to their stage of development.  Research shows that, in the long run, early pressure for academic learning does far more harm than good. 

A kindergarten stage is also necessary to reduce the number of additional support needs in Scottish schools – now standing at a horrifying 33%. The majority of these additional needs are due to developmental or emotional problems, both of which would be hugely ameliorated by an extra couple of years in a kindergarten environment.  

And a kindergarten stage could also help stem the horrifying tide of mental health problems among children and young people.  What happens during early childhood has lifelong implications for physical and mental health.  It’s a time when children need to be physically active, not stuck behind desks in classrooms for many hours a day.  It’s when they develop, through play, the social and emotional skills needed to thrive throughout life – not least self-regulation and emotional resilience, both of which act as protective factors against mental health problems in the future."